59. Scene V.xiii
The Lay of Leithian Dramatic Script Project
BELOVED FOOL: BEYOND THE WESTERN SEA
[Luthien is looking down at the stretch of dais between her and the more orderly part of her audience with rather a bemused expression as her cousin and his foremost counselor kneel on the stones building a large map of the sort first seen in Act II, an illusion of topography and vegetation which looks both like an ambitious architectural model made of silvery light, and a very lumpy glowing carpet. By their expressions, their living friends and relations find it at least as peculiar as she does.]
So did you come out of Doriath here, or further up, here?
Hmm…I'm not really sure -- it didn't look anything like that when I was there, after all. It was sort of looming over me, you see--
Finrod: [briskly interrupting]
Well, let's turn it this way instead--
Steward: [stopping him]
I don't think that is going to help, meaning no disrespect to the Lady, since--
Finrod: [cutting him off with a frown]
You set Watchtower Number Ten in the wrong place.
[pointing to a section]
Steward: [looking hard at the map]
I did not.
I should know, Edrahil, I put it there myself in the first place.
The tower, indeed, my lord -- but surely not the hill? That did predate our arrival in Beleriand, I believe.
That's what I meant. The hill is too far west.
Far from it.
You should know, none of that is anywhere near where I was.
Look. It should be a league and a half from Eleven, but that would put it right there--
So does it really matter if it's all correct?
--which is in the middle of the Narog!
And I might point out, were I so inclined, that 'twas not I who drew the watercourses.
[Luthien shrugs and gives up, somewhat bemused; the lawful Eldar look rather dismayed. Camera shift to the back ranks of the steps, where the Elf of Alqualonde is scowling at the Lord of Dogs, who keeps giving her worried, eye-rolling glances over the Captain's back, the latter having his head down resting on his arms]
Captain: [without looking up]
Please stop glaring at Huan, Sea-Mew.
How do you know that I am, if you attend not?
You're making him whine and twitch.
[lifting up his head and looking at her]
It's not necessary, is it? He already knows you don't forgive him, and there are more appropriate targets for your anger present.
But I am afraid of that one, still, when I am not too angry to recollect it.
[she looks across them at the Lord Warden, and back down again hastily, and shudders]
But not of Huan.
[she gives him a sidelong Look but doesn't reply, while the Hound rolls his eyes in doggish worry towards her]
I will not make him bark again.
[Huan gives a hesitant tail thump; she tosses her hair]
It is much too noisy.
No, Sire, I did not make it too long -- every wretched ell of it that I ever travelled, and no more, 'twixt there and Teiglin!
[Finrod makes an impatient exclamation and gesture over the map, while Luthien watches them in tolerant amusement]
Teler Maid: [worried frown]
Why do they quarrel over such a small matter now?
Because it is a small, unimportant matter, and why did you come home and snap at my sister whenever you'd gone down to hang about on the steps of the Mindon and been snubbed by Edrahil?
What scale are we using, anyway? I don't think it's the same overall.
The scale is irrelevant, so long as it maintains internal consistency.
Because Suli' did not mind it and I was cross and joyless.
Well then, there's your answer.
Well, exactly -- and how can we tell that if we don't know what it is?
Angrod: [mostly aside]
Please, just stop it, would you?
Very well, Majesty -- choose a measure and set a distance, and we'll refigure it from there.
Luthien: [rueful, to her relations near and distant, living and dead]
--I don't think it took me this long to cross the Talath Dirnen on foot.
You are cross and joyless as well.
Why did you do it, when you would not ere now?
Situation changed. They do that, you know.
[meanwhile the Doriathrin Lord has gotten involved in correcting the map, which is getting bigger by the moment]
--No, your Majesty, my lord, I must declare you are both wrong, in setting the Road so nigh to Malduin there…
But you said you would not, and it would do more harm than good!
Captain: [with another small shrug]
It needed to be done, and no one else could in that particular given circumstance. Command responsibility, it's called.
But you did not manage it at all well.
Aegnor: [to the ceiling]
Surely no one's surprised by that--!
[the Captain winces; as the Sea-elf contrarily turns a fierce glare on her liege lady's son, the latter's brother elbows him sharply in the ribs. Aegnor gives Angrod a glare in turn, but Angrod stares his sibling down, or at least away.]
Teler Maid. [more subdued]
I am sorry. But it is true nonetheless.
[the map has now crept along almost the entire bottom tier of the dais, up to Angband, and Fingolfin is correcting their placement of the northwestern mountain ranges, while Luthien looks on with increasing ironic humour, others of the Ten offer suggestions, Finarfin and Nerdanel at least find it fascinating, as does the Apprentice (though Elenwe does not seem much interested), Aredhel is sulking, and Eol is pretending he isn't interested in it at all. (Amarie is watching Finrod with a cold and quite expressionless countenance.)]
Nonetheless -- it was enough.
Edrahil couldn't do it -- that would have made things far worse, even if he had been there for it all and not off agonizing over whether he dared set foot on what was, when you come right down to it, just a very deep lot of water on top of an even deeper lot of water.
That should be a little more to the right--
Nephew, I do not tell you where your capital city was.
--Because you don't know--
Nor would I, if I did.
Teler Maid: [in a tone of quiet scorn]
It is so foolish, that he does fear the Sea.
[as the Captain gives her a level Look, defensively]
You never did.
No. . . I'm afraid of things like being unable to see or move or breathe freely, or of being completely powerless to help someone else, -- or of the people I trusted unquestioningly to make the best choices for the best reasons, suddenly turning on each other and mauling each other without regard for truth or kinship.
[Aegnor makes as if to say something, then stops; Angrod stares at him, but he feigns to be absorbed in watching their eldest sibling wrangle with their uncle over the positioning of the forts of the Leaguer.]
You'd think those who are unfit to be named among the Noldor would at least have the sense of shame, if nothing else, to refrain from displaying that fact!
[his erstwhile adversary looks around at the number of people present, then at his solitary state]
Captain: [to Huan]
Dumb, but brave, no question.
[the Sea-elf giggles but quickly ducks out of the Feanorian's line of sight]
Outnumbered or not, I am warranted in despising you for your . . . servility and lack of regard for our people's higher station.
Captain: [shaking his head in disgust]
I do not understand how you can sit there and mock us for being proud to be servants of our King, when your own life hinged on being Celegorm's gatekeeper.
Aglon: [hot indignation]
Lord Feanor's House are worthy lords and it is an honor to serve them, and give whatever aid one can to their efforts.
This is why I clobber you people, because I haven't the patience to go round and round in endless circles with you, trying to get you to see how you're being inconsistent.
[the Warden gives him a sullen glare and looks away.]
The difference between us is -- well, one of them, at least -- is that I'm honest about wanting direction and guidance, if no more than the reassurance that someone with greater knowledge, understanding and dispassion is there to back me up or call me down if need be, so I don't have to constantly second-guess the whole many-sided situation and my own judgments, to wit, should I be doing this at all? Are we even supposed to be here? Does anyone in charge have the least notion of what's afoot, and if I'm really it -- we've Morgoth's mercy of a chance of getting through this--
Wouldn't you agree that I at least ought to know the disposition of the blasted marshes, now?
Steward: [very precise]
If I may remind you, my lord, you were not in full possession of your faculties at the time. The channel proper of Sirion was here, not here. If that had not been so, we would have drowned -- which I am fairly certain was not the case.
Oh, stop -- there, happy now?
Captain: [disbelief evident]
--Don't tell me you'd rather have had ultimate responsibility for the possible death or capture of your lord, not merely your company, than being told -- Hold the Pass and stop them from getting through after us, no matter what? --I know which I would have prefered in the Sudden Flame.
[the Warden does not answer; again Finrod's brothers have a quick silent interchange, but do not end up saying anything.]
That depends, Sire -- what definition are you using?
Captain: [after a momentary hesitation, quietly]
--I'm sorry about your brother.
I confess, I find it a matter of great wonderment to me, that ye do find it not troublesome i'the least wise, to make such Workings illusory, for lacking of all flesh.
Apprentice: [reluctant and very apologetic]
Er -- my lady, it's not really polite to mention the fact that people are -- dead, here.
No, that's all right, that's only scientific curiosity, not that the lady's disturbed by us being ghosts.
Nerdanel: [smiling sadly]
Nay, yet e'en so likewise.
Warrior: [with a respectful nod]
[this just leaves the disguised Maia more confused than ever]
On the contrary, good mine aunt, 'tis most passing light, that hath not weight of flesh thus interposéd 'twixt thought and world, that one verily might dwell most utter and complete, did so wish, within the pleasaunce of illusion.
[Note: she pronounces "illusion" archaically, with a sibilant "s" instead of the "zh" sound, which makes it sound not unlike "Elysium".]
Finrod: [offhand, still moving trees around]
And then there's the possibility which has yet to be proven one way or the other, that everything here is illusory, in a sense.
Finarfin: [jolted out of his brooding]
Finrod: [looking up from the project for the moment]
Right -- that none of this environment is extant in the same way that, say, the Big Island exists, or Arda itself, or our halls within Tirion, any more than a painting of a house is the same as the house itself, even if it were painted on screens around one so that someone walking through might not be able to tell without touching the walls that they were cloth instead of stone.
Aredhel: [rolling her eyes]
Oh, Stars, this is too absurd.
You can't prove it isn't so, all the same.
Lord Namo got very put out when you said that last time.
Finrod: [gesturing to the arches overhead]
I don't mean that the Halls themselves are necessarily unreal. Only that whatever we perceive here might well be as much a matter of Their willing and mental images of it, as our own perceptions of ourselves are our own. --One greater Working, making it possible for us that are discorporate to feel at home.
And what, child, of we that bide here most presently enflesh't?
Either the same -- or else you might be but dreaming, and your bodies still Outside.
Nay, I ken well that I dream not!
Luthien: [thoughtful frown]
Hm. I'm really not sure, myself. It all looks and seems very real - but then it would, wouldn't it?
Forasmuch as were't mine own, 'twould be other than this, in truth!
Finrod: [carefully bland]
Against the Weaver's workings, and Lord Namo's -- you'd back your own strength, then?
[she stares at him angrily, caught ought; he goes on as if not aware of her dilemma]
What this place looks to be, to one of the gods -- or to the One -- I am not sure, as much as I am sure from all the evidence that it does not appear exactly the same to each of us, and that our own will changes not only our own perceptions, but may also shift those of others near us. That's all.
I must say, dearest cousin, your garden in Tirion is superb. One can almost recall color therein.
Aye, well, 'tis long enow I shall have Worked it, verily.
Finarfin: [to Fingolfin]
What makest thou of such theorem -- or indeed must I declare, theorem passing strange and troublous, my brother?
It does not seem to matter much one way or the other, ultimately -- Majesty.
[Finarfin looks at him warily, but his elder is smiling at him with a faintly-rueful expression of shared sibling humour, and precedes to manifest a chessman, raising his eyebrows as he continues:]
So that I might conjure me up the semblance of my diversions, for myself it changes nothing if the floor beneath my gaming table be as phantasmal as the board, if your son's most troublesome speculation, that there be no hall of very hollowing, but all here's solid rock, and thus the Halls to be enlarged ever without difficulty, by virtue of their merely artificial state.
Finrod: [who is frowning rather hard at a section of the lower Sirion]
Mind you, uncle, I don't think that possibility's particularly likely -- it would require that the Weaver have broken an imaginary lamp in a fit of anger, then gotten upset over that and flung it at us, which would seem to be taking a bit of playacting rather far and indicate that she herself had gotten caught up in her own illusions, which in turn just doesn't fit with what I know of the Powers at all. --Though it would explain how it's so easy to move them around, and so hard to map them -- or how there's no consistency of distance or travel here. One explanation, at least.
[to the Steward, indicating some detail of the map]
--What about that?
Fourth Guard: [wry]
Whatever you do, Sir, don't mention that possibility to Beren.
[checks -- to Luthien]
I'm so sorry, my Lady.
Don't be. I know that he's isn't lost.
[to the mapping team]
That looks rather different from the image I saw in the Hall of Maps.
Finrod: [looking up again from where he's kneeling, pleased]
Oh, did you see that? What did you think of it?
Mostly -- that's how much further I'm going to have to walk? And then, -- that it was incredibly beautiful.
Finrod: [with a touch of mischief]
Edrahil made that, you know.
Steward: [tolerant patience]
Aye, my lord, even as you made Nargothrond, in degree proportionate to its lesser scale.
If you're going to put in ponds of that small size, her Highness will never get a chance to resume her narrative.
Don't be absurd, it won't take that long.
And that is a saying that has never been heard before.
One does wonder if Lord Namo will be quite as indulgent as my master your uncle, Sire…?
Captain: [calling down to them]
Oh, I'm sure he won't mind stepping over him ever time he has to hold an audience, really. Nor her ladyship.
Finrod: [mock indignation]
Hey there, enough -- that project only took…er, right. I suppose we ought to finish it up, oughtn't we?
We, my lord?
[As the Captain is scratching Huan's nose with a more cheerful expression, (and Finrod's brothers are looking rather wistful at the easy camaraderie of the preceding exchanges,) the Sea-Mew edges up closer to them and pokes him on the arm]
Well, did he or did he not? Make that other map?
It was his idea; he got permission -- coordinated the research -- planned the program of the illustrations and their sequence -- chose the colors -- assembled a group of artists to carry it out -- might perhaps have actually touched the murals twice in the course of correcting its lines. What do you think?
Teler Maid: [raising her eyebrows]
I think it most odd that they do quibble over it then.
[the Lord Warden breaks into the ensuing pause with an abruptness reminiscent of a bird-of-prey's sharp movement]
Captain: [shaking his head]
This again! Well, what?
Aren't you going to say anything else?
Almost certainly. It's rather a habit, I'm afraid.
[the Warden gives him a very dark Look and snorts indignantly, but does not further explain. Finrod sits back and looks down at the carpet of three-dimensional illuminated terrain appraisingly]
That should do it, I think.
It still seems a bit off.
It's probably the difference in perspective that's causing it. At least--
[with an ironic grin, to his chief counselor]
--let's hope so!
[they get up and resume their former places on the steps, the Steward giving his lord a hand up; as the youngest of the Kings present circles the image he intersects, quite unawares, with his father's ankle, causing the latter to flinch not with fear but distress; the late High King, observing, reaches out to comfort the living, and then catches himself -- but Finarfin gives his brother a grateful and appreciative look all the same. As Finrod sits down by Luthien's side, he whistles]
That's a great deal of map, isn't it?
[to Luthien, a bit chagrined]
Luthien: [shaking her head]
It's all right, I understand.
He's put Mithrim in the wrong place.
No, he hasn't; it's the angle, that's all.
I don't think so.
Fine -- you get him going again now that he's calmed down.
Of course they would leave out Nan Elmoth.
Aredhel: [looking around at him, and in the same tone]
Stop being stupid -- the map doesn't go that far east. I don't see my home on there, either, do you?
That's a deliberate omission, though, I'm guessing, since it must be right in there somewhere--
[she points towards the topography of the Crissaegrim]
Aredhel: [sitting up straight, shocked]
How do you know where it is?
Well, I saw it -- or what I presumed it must have been, unless there are more secret Cities tucked away in Beleriand than our spies ever heard of.
You actually saw Gondolin?
I saw a stone city, not like ours, but like a big white water-lily in a cup of water--
[Elenwe seems really interested, for the first time, but doesn't interrupt]
Aredhel: [giving Luthien an incredulous Look]
--What?! It's nothing like that!
Luthien: [speaking on as if the other woman hadn't been so rude]
--or like, like the Fortress might have been, if it wasn't contaminated and an awful lot bigger.
Finrod: [suspiciously hoarse]
Um. You mean, how did I see it? That was when the Eagles were taking us south from Angband. But that's a long while after, and I'm getting ahead of myself. But from the air, that's how.
[he doesn't answer, and looks rather strained]
What's wrong? Finrod?
[Finrod shakes his head, lifting his hand in a waving-off gesture, but can't talk. The Steward half turns and grips his wrist reassuringly]
My lord, let not the shock of unprepared-for recollection force from your thoughts that Lord Turgon is well, and safe, and his folk likewise -- and leave aside as unfruitful all concerns for the cause and breadth of your friendship's sundering until you may see him again to question him in person.
[Finrod looks down, not speaking]
Ingold. And he hath changéd out all recognition, mine own dear love had ne'er willingly reft thy friendship, nor thee of his companioning. --Trust me, that hath a consort's comprehension, if thou mayest not trust thy friend in his absentry.
Captain: [holding him down by his collar]
No, he wouldn't appreciate it if you trod on everyone to go cheer him up.
Fingolfin: [very knowing]
The hurt is assuaged somewhat by knowing that my son and granddaughter bide secure -- but it abides nonetheless.
[Finrod does not look up yet, but nods in answer]
Aredhel: [distinctly uncomfortable]
I don't see why you're making such a matter of it -- it isn't as if you'd likely have seen him more than once in a yen regardless.
[the Steward turns his head and gives her an arctic Look]
Highness, do not exaggerate that you may diminish your own unease for my lord your kinsman's sorrow even as your royal father's.
[she does not quite dare to tell him to shut up, so contents herself with ignoring him.]
Finrod: [straightening with a sigh]
[shaking his head]
It's a good thing the Enemy hasn't managed to construct any creatures capable of matching an Eagle for flying capability.
[Aredhel's husband shakes his head, laughing scornfully]
Is there no end to your frantic and implausible speculations, Noldo?
[taut, hostile pause as the Ten and the Princes give Eol angry glares]
Not that I've discovered, cousin.
[from Eol's expression, no epithet could be more insulting/annoying than that last; to Luthien:]
So -- do you want to tell me about your journey now? You've waited long enough, I'm afraid.
Oh, there hardly seems that much to tell, when you come down to it. I mean, it was rather frightening and rugged -- but the fear was wasted, really. It was more boring than anything else -- walk all day; find water; scavenge something to eat; hide if it sounded like something larger than a mouse might be about, find a tree or a high boulder to rest on when I got too tired to walk any longer -- and do it all again the next day.
I didn't see anything more dangerous than stags and boar -- no more sign of Orcs than of my father's scouts. I'd hoped that laying a false trail Northward would have misled them -- but I scarcely dared to hope it would work, if you know what I mean.
They probably thought you'd go the easiest way, through Brethil, right to the Crossings and strike upriver to the Fortress from there.
I'm not that foolish. I did try to do things prudently and systematically at least. I just didn't anticipate--
[she glances at Nerdanel and checks herself]
[shaking her head, ironic]
To think of all the energy I wasted worrying about those Enemy armies my father said were waiting to swoop down and hunt me like a deer, when I could have been worrying full time about you all instead.
Highness, your father only said that because it was the truth.
Then why did I never hear anything before Dad comes out with it as if he'd only just thought of the possibility and were trying to convince himself that it were more than that?
My Princess -- no one wished to trouble you with useless fears, that you might no longer pass each day in full content -- or still worse, to cause you grief and guilt over the risk and cost of life to our warriors, as though it were indeed your own fault and responsibility that our ancient foe should seek in such a way to harm great Melian and our lord your father.
You know perfectly well what it looks like, though -- don't you?
[overlapping, all as worried as if it were still a potential danger]
Please, my Lady, it was the truth--
Your father wasn't lying, Highness, I did hear about all that from Beleg--
Even if it sounds suspect and was manipulative, you can believe that part, cousin.
Luthien: [with a sweeping-away gesture of her hand]
Oh I do, I believe it -- now; Beren told me. And it does make sense, after all, really -- that He'd be trying to get me as part of all his other offensives against them, to use me as leverage to get Doriath to surrender, if he could take me hostage. Or for revenge. But--
[she is still grim and her expression bitter]
--Nevertheless, it's a difficult thing, to discover that those you've trusted to be wiser than yourself for all your life -- and more perfect in all abilities and virtue -- have deceived you. It calls all into question, everything that they've said before, and then afterwards to justify it -- not excluding whether or not it really was done for good intentions and for your own sake.
[she nods, gloomily; he turns a challenging Look on the living Vanya present]
--Do you not agree, my lady?
Amarie: [stifled, looking straight ahead]
I deny thee not the right of thy words.
And what of the rightness of them?
[finally she glares at him]
Amarie: [through her teeth]
I'll not allow thee right thereunto defend thy rebel soul, by holding claim of ill-doing 'gainst the gods, that one wrong be set to justification of the other.
But that isn't what he's doing. He's pointing out the fact that after one has ruined one's credibility in a great matter, the trail's been beaten for any subsequent crises to follow, so that both future credibility and moral authority are now forever going to be deservedly taken with a grain of salt. That's why we don't really trust the Noldor any more. --Present company excepted with exceptions, of course.
[to Finrod, with a curious frown]
Er -- what?
[he is just as thrown as everyone else by both the non-sequitur and the rapid recovery from angry exhausted nervous wreck to competent member of an ages-old ruling House, both those who knew the Princess in life as much as those who have only seen her under present circumstances.]
Where does that expression come from, and what does it mean? Beren had no idea why they used it as a figure of speech.
Oh. It -- ah, it's used in chemical reactions.
[as she keeps looking at him doubtfully, head to one side]
There are also medical applications of the element, my Lady -- which must be ever tempered lest it do more harm than good, to mortal systems -- and there is a more likely route for the metaphor to have entered the mortal vernacular, I judge.
Yes, that's a much clearer way of putting it.
[clearly not quite satisfied]
He guessed it might be because you can make any old glop taste halfway edible, if you add salt to it, when you're messing out pottage.
[the Ambassador winces at her idioms]
That -- could also be right.
Dare I guess, how Elu reacted to you using North-country Sindarin about the place?
Sounds like you already have.
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